Beijing

Code City

Code City


If the modern city is a game of solid volumes and hollow spaces, the zoning code for the city is like the rules of Go. The story of zoning is the history of how urban planners learned to regulate a contest for natural light, fresh air, and open view. Beijing, as well as other Chinese megacities, is heavily subject to zoning codes. Code City explores and critiques the (in)ability of zoning codes in making Chinese megacities. Through visualization, mapping, collage of narratives, trans-cultural studies and educative games, it features alternative urban morphological scenarios based on a hypothetical manipulation of zoning codes and building regulations. The main body of the exhibition narrates four urban “fables” in a typical Chinese context. Those fables feature alternative urban forms and the tensions between public and private, between general and special, and between the privileged and the unprivileged. Each story focuses on a specific portion of the zoning code, such as land use, density, massing, and building design guideline. Starting with personal narratives from fictional protagonists, these stories will eventually lead to comprehensive criticism of the existing zoning code.